The 30th Annual Conference of the Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism (ASEN) will take place on 22-23 April 2020. This year’s theme will be Nationalism and Multiculturalism. The Annual Conference will take place in Edinburgh and is organised in cooperation with ASEN Edinburgh.  The Anthony D. Smith Lecture will take place on 21 April 2020. Please, submit your abstract by 15 November 2019.

Call for Papers

Nationalism, as a political principle and ideology that seeks to make cultural and political boundaries coincide in the form of the nation-state, can be at odds with prevailing ethnic, religious, linguistic and racial diversity. This diversity may originate either in long-established and often indigenous communities, or in more recent, immigrant communities.

Multiculturalism emerged as a principle of political and social integration of culturally plural societies and an alternative to assimilation and imposition of a dominant culture on cultural minorities. However, multiculturalism has been challenged both by liberal egalitarians who consider its explicit and implicit advancement of collective rights to be inconsistent with liberal individualism, and by a re-surgent mono-ethnic or mono-cultural nationalism that sees it as a threat to the ethno-/culturally-defined nation. Furthermore, multiculturalism has remained an ambiguous principle, whose realisation has been pursued through a diverse and even contradictory range of policies, generally tied to the contingencies and specificities of particular cultural groups and states.

This conference focuses on the complex relationship between state and culture/cultural identity, nationalism and multiculturalism. It seeks to explore a key issue that dominates contemporary social theory and policymaking: To what extent and in what ways could culturally plural societies find expression, without antagonism, both in public life and in the politics of democratic societies? The conference addresses both the long-standing forms of multiculturalism and post-colonial immigration. The aim is to examine multiculturalism as a state project, but also as a broader cultural framework in which diversity is contained or acted out as a social practice.

Is multiculturalism another form of nationalism, i.e., another form of national self-affirmation and determination within existing states? How do we reconcile the necessity of common values and national solidarity in modern democratic states, on the one hand, with the demand for individual and/or group differentiated rights, on the other? How can multinational/multicultural societies develop cooperation and loyalty to state institutions? What are the advantages and limits of multiculturalism in regulating the relationship between immigrants and host societies, minorities and majorities? Does multiculturalism inadvertently reify ethnic groups? Is multiculturalism retreating in Western societies as a result of the rise of national populism? Are some forms of recognition especially challenging, not least to other minorities?

The conference is intended to cover cases from all parts of the world and welcomes papers based on different theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches, and from different disciplines and fields, such as political science, political theory, critical studies, philosophy, sociology, law, and history.

Themes include:

  • State and Culture
  • Nationalism and diversity
  • Multiethnicity in post-colonial states
  • Religious diversity in multiethnic societies
  • Nationalism and belonging
  • Race studies and critical perspectives on ethnicity
  • Nationalism, homogenisation and assimilation
  • Liberal nationalism and group differentiated rights
  • Nationalism, multiculturalism and interculturalism
  • Multicultural citizenship/nationalism
  • Competing nationalisms in multinational states
  • Empires and multiculturalism
  • Evaluating the ‘politics of recognition’
  • Migration, multiculturalism and minority rights


Notably 2020 will mark three significant anniversaries:

  • 30 years of ASEN
  • 25 years of Nations & Nationalism
  • 25 years of Edinburgh’s Nationalism Studies programme

In order to celebrate these anniversaries, the conference will close with a plenary event involving the current and previous ASEN Presidents.

Abstract submission

Please, submit your abstract by 15 November 2019. Abstracts should be no longer than 250 words and they must include a working title and the position and affiliation of the author. You should expect to speak for no more than 15 minutes. Please ensure that you highlight how your paper relates to the conference theme and its central questions. Co-authored papers must be submitted by only one of the authors.

Indicate at the beginning of the form if yours is an individual paper submission or a contribution within a larger panel proposal and explain the panel proposal on the ‘Extra notes’ section. Reviewers will take into consideration the proposal, however, papers are evaluated on an individual basis and panel paper submissions may be split up. 

The abstract will be reviewed by the Conference Committee and a decision will be announced around January and February. Please note that you will not receive a confirmation email when you send your abstract, however, if you have filled in the SurveyMonkey page correctly, your abstract will have been received.

Fees and funding

Information regarding conference fees and how to register will be made available shortly. As an indication, last year’s fees where the following: 

At the moment, ASEN cannot provide funding for the travel or accommodation expenses. 

Conference Co-Chairs

Javier Carbonell: Twitter: @javierccll – Email: J.Carbonell@ed.ac.uk


For any enquiries in relation to the conference, please contact Javier Carbonell – the ASEN Coordinator – at asen@asen.ac.uk. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more information.